The Notting Hill Carnival, held in West London on August 27 this year, has become one of the biggest street festivals in Europe. It celebrates the British West Indian community and encourages cultural unity. In the ’60s, the festival sprang up as one way to address community unrest and improve racial relations.
Today, the carnival features a parade with elaborate floats and colorful, costumed performers. Spectators dance to steel bands and calypso music. So, if you want to get into the spirit of the Caribbean, eat some peas and rice and other delicacies and be all the way live at the Notting Hill Carnival. Give yourself over to those wonderful West Indian vibes!
When is Notting Hill Carnival 2023?
Notting Hill Carnival takes place on the last weekend of August — on August 27 and 28 this year.
History of Notting Hill Carnival
The political and social conditions following the migration of people from the Caribbean in 1948 led to the introduction of the Notting Hill Carnival. Initially known as the Trinidad Carnival, which celebrated Caribbean culture and traditions, the first Notting Hill Carnival was held in 1966.
The first Notting Hill Carnival celebration was attended by nearly 500 people in Notting Hill. The carnival has evolved into Europe’s biggest street festival, attracting hundreds of thousands to the streets of London. The popularity of the carnival continues to grow every year. The two-day festival features 5 aspects: masquerade, steel pan bands, sound systems, soca, and calypso.
Today, the expected turnout at the Notting Hill Carnival is 50,000 performers in the parade alone and at least 30 sound systems. More than one million people from around the world flock to attend the carnival, which generates a large revenue for the economy.
In 2020, the Notting Hill Carnival was entirely virtual for the first time, with regular DJs, artists, and carnival performers providing nonstop music and entertainment throughout the carnival weekend. The festival is a celebration of cultures and, despite political pressures, continues to thrive as a free platform for the community.
Notting Hill Carnival timeline
The St Pancras Town Hall responded to problematic racial relations at the time, and the London Free School festival was the first outdoor festival in the area celebrating cultural unity.
The carnival is led by members of the British West Indian community.
This makes the festival the largest street festival in Europe and one of the largest in the world.
Notting Hill Carnival takes place entirely online, with music and entertainment throughout the weekend from featured carnival performers, DJs and artists.
London’s biggest street party is an array of music, colors, and flavors. Traditionally, elaborately decorated floats and performers in colorful costumes take to the streets for an entire weekend of entertainment. Participants dance to the live sound of calypso music and steel bands, and enjoy mouth-wateringly delicious foods at the long line of stalls.
Getting into the spirit of the carnival is as simple as grooving to the beats, feasting on Caribbean specialties, and donning delightful costumes. The after-parties are also part of the tradition, continuing the festivities for those who don’t want the party to stop!
Notting Hill Carnival By The Numbers
2 million – the estimated number of attendees at the Notting Hill Carnival every year.
40,000 – the number of volunteers at the carnival every year.
11 – the number of Glastonbury festivals that a single Notting Hill Carnival is equivalent to.
2nd – the ranking of the Notting Hill Carnival as the largest carnival in the world.
£93 million – the contribution of the carnival to London’s economy.
20% – the percentage of attendees that are tourists.
30 – the number of sound systems at the carnival.
10 – the number of steel pan bands at the carnival every year.
15,000 – the number of costumes created for the carnival every year.
30 million – the number of sequins it takes to make and decorate all the costumes.
Notting Hill Carnival FAQs
Is Carnival canceled this year in 2021?
The Notting Hill Carnival is canceled for 2021.
Is Notting Hill Carnival free?
The main carnival is free and unticketed, but you’ll need to pay if you plan to go to an after-party.
Will Notting Hill Carnival go ahead in 2021?
The organizers of Notting Hill Carnival have canceled celebrations taking place on the street for 2021.
Notting Hill Carnival Activities
Cook a Caribbean dish
Caribbean food is a great fusion of cuisine from the many countries that colonized the area or had some other presence in the islands. You'll find European, Latin American, Cajun, and African influences in many traditional recipes.
Listen to Caribbean music
Reggae, meringue, calypso and rumba are some examples of the breadth and versatility of Caribbean musical styles. During the Notting Hill Carnival, groove on the beats and appreciate their uniqueness!
Visit a program at the Notting Hill Carnival
Over the two day festival, there are a variety of different activities and programs going on. Watch a parade, check out a music competition, or listen to a Caribbean history lesson.
5 Celebrities With Caribbean Roots
Rihanna was born in Barbados before coming to the United States.
The rapper was born in Trinidad and sometimes references the country in her songs.
Bob Marley became the voice of an oppressed generation in Jamaica. Through reggae music, people all over the world became aware of Marley's community activism for social justice and pure, Jamaican pride.
Although Washington was born in New York, her mother comes from Jamaican heritage.
The talented singer is Trinidadian, Dominican, AND Puerto Rican.
Why We Love Notting Hill Carnival
Much of what people know about the Caribbean is the beautiful landscape. The Notting Hill Carnival shows people that there's so much more to the region, including the food, dancing, music, and of course, the warm, West Indian people!
Some of the most interesting features of the festival are the colorful, feathery costumes that people wear. Blues, greens, yellows, and pinks can be seen for blocks as dancers make their way through the parade.
One of the charms of the Notting Hill Carnival is when attendees let loose and have a good time. Don't be afraid to let your hair down and party! Security is tight allowing everybody to have a great time.
Notting Hill Carnival dates